As a swimmer, the 34-year-old won silver at London 2012 and bronze in Rio, but finally got the colour she wanted after switching to para-canoe.
She retired from swimming in 2017 to change sports, winning the KL2 world championship the following year and again in 2019.
In Tokyo, she faced tough competition from team-mate and defending champion Emma Wiggs.
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The pair looked set for a one-two from the start of this morning’s race, before Henshaw edged ahead, setting a new Paralympic best time of 50.76 seconds, with Wiggs second.
“It’s amazing,” she told the BBC. “I feel a real sense of gratitude that I got the opportunity to race for this medal.
“It was a fantastic race and incredible that Emma and I were able to get the top two steps on the podium.
“It just shows the strength we have in British canoeing and I’m proud to be part of it.”